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Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Mlw
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Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Mlw » June 12th, 2018, 6:10 am

You have probably heard of Jordan B. Peterson, the YouTube star. He is presently engaged in a project of translating the bible to discursive thought. I have studied his ideas and find them exceedingly reductionistic. Read my review on below link.
  • Critique of Jordan B. Peterson's Neo-Hegelian philosophy

    Abstract: Peterson's philosophy, as expounded in Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, departs radically from views held in depth psychology and theology but has much in common with Hegel. The world of consciousness is greatly overestimated. His exaggerated intellectualism leads to deep symbols being over-rationalized, producing meager and sterile interpretations. The article contributes to the understanding of myth and religion.

    Keywords: identification, psychic integration, symbolic meaning, transcendence, evil, heroism, Magna Mater, Osiris, resurrection, alchemy, Hegel, Carl Jung, M-L von Franz, Nietzsche, St Augustine.

    Read the article here: http://mlwi.magix.net/peterson.htm

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Freudian Monkey » July 4th, 2018, 5:06 am

Hello mlw,

I read through your article and thought I should write some kind of a response to your post. I've read some Jung, Campbell, Eliade and other scholars of comparative mythology, but I'm less familiar with Hegel and von Franz. I also only know Peterson's views through his interviews and some of his lecture videos. I also feel the need to point out that I'm a fierce critic of Peterson myself and don't share many of his views. I might share some of his interpretations of Jung however, but we will get to that in time.

Your article was an interesting read. Since I'm more familiar with Campbell's interpretation of Jungian archetypes and the development of an individual's psyche, I learned that a very different approach is also possible. To me Campbell's (and Peterson's) approach to Jungism is very practical, maybe overly so. He tries to apply most Jungian concepts and mythological stories into one grand narrative (monomyth), and at the center of this epic, ever recurring timeless story is you - the individual, who struggles between societal norms, expectations and individual desires and impulses. From what I gathered based on your article, von Franz's approach to individual's personal development is very different. Perhaps you could summarize for me how von Franz views individual development and what kind of role Jungian concepts play in it?

I was very surprised that Peterson equates symbols with metaphors. I'm not sure how he justifies such a view based on his study of Jung. I would need to read his book to fully understand his approach. I also found it weird that he "equates the transcendental with phenomena to which our behavioural schemes are not yet adapted". This to me seems very counter to Jungian approach, more like a rationalistic approach to the question.

Occasionally, while reading your article, I got the impression that you had approached Peterson's book with the presumption that his views are faulty and you merely wanted to find arguments to support this claim. I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm accusing you of faulty research methods, since this is not my intention at all. Perhaps it was due to the shortness of the article that you mainly focused on the faults of Peterson's approach rather than give a more comprehensive summary of his approach to Jung.

I don't think you represented correctly Campbell's view of emancipation, socialization and individuation, which Peterson seems to share to an extent. Campbell splits individual development into different phases that all appear in the monomyth - there's the Departure, that represent a developmental phase when a child takes the first steps to separate himself from his/her parents. This is an individualistic act of a "hero" that is necessary for the healthy development of the child. If the child never rebelled against his parents, he would never fully grow to become a responsible member of a society. I'm sorry if I misunderstood the points you were trying to make with regards to the Petersons' hero narratives.

Criticizing Peterson's political views in the end was a bit odd choice considering the main purpose of the article was to critique his views on Jung and depth psychology.Your analysis of why Peterson has become so popular was however spot on - absolutely correct.

Maybe this is enough for a start.

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Mlw » July 10th, 2018, 11:28 am

Thanks for the comment! No, the aim of the article was to critique Peterson's Neo-Hegelianism, intellectualism, reductionism and rationalism, and how his view of religious symbol flies in the face of depth psychology, theology and comparative religion. Of course, he is not in error just because he contradicts Jungian psychology. It is the way he does it which is problematic. The reason why I have nothing good to say is because there is nothing good about this book. It is horrible!

Marie-Louise von Franz is a classical Jungian. Unlike what Erich Neumann and Joseph Campbell say, the hero's journey does not portray the stages of the emerging ego. Indeed, it is true that the hero archetype is relevant to consciousness. It's because it represents an impetus of conscious realization, spontaneously emerging from the unconscious. The sun hero rises above the horizon, which causes the ego temporarily to identify with it. But all heroes suffer demise. So do Jesus, Siegfried, Horus, and Attis, too. The sun-hero must go down at the western horizon. The hero dies, but the ego lives on. So it is not the ego's journey. It depicts the journey of a god. Unlike what Peterson says, mythology is not the story of human society. It is the story of the gods.

Mats

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Newme » July 11th, 2018, 2:18 pm

Mats,
Peterson and Jung have repeatedly tried to show that stories, legends and myths reflect more about the psychology of the person or group telling or sharing them, than they do about objective reality. Unless you literally believe myths, they tell more about the societies telling and honoring the myths than the myths themselves.

Another repetitive thing Peterson has done is remind the reader or audience that he is giving his psychological perspective and that if you were to ask people from different expertise, they’d likely give you different interpretations. He, Jung & I have seen how psych-ology and spiritually are inseparably related.

Peterson has gained popularity for various reasons. I believe one reason is that many are ready to move on from the mythical and skeptical stages (Fowler’s stages 3 & 4 https://i.pinimg.com/originals/38/b4/28 ... bc77d7.jpg ) and are ready for stage 5. Peterson suggested what was meant by the famous “God is dead” - was people no longer saw God as they did before - and we’ve lost the spirit or symbolic meaning of myths because of too much focus on taking them literally, either to be worshipped or discarded, based on literal interpretations. Peterson & Jung have showed that similar myths have emerged in vastly different cultures, implying collective unconscious (universal) meaning.

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Mlw » July 11th, 2018, 4:10 pm

Peterson does not make a psychological analysis proper. He psychologizes myth. The personalistic and Freudian interpretation, although psychological per se, is simply wrong. One famous example of this is Narcissus in the Greek fairy tale, who is understood as a self-centered ego. In fact, Narcissus symbolizes an unconscious archetype that "falls" down in the conscious world. He becomes self-conscious in myth, so it's plain as day. Read my article: The real meaning of the motif of the dying god.

Jung, on the other hand, does not make a personalistic interpretation. On the contrary, the archetype is understood as an autonomous content of the collective unconscious, remote from the life of the ego. Religious myth provides us with the *other* point of view. We are so embroiled in the world, so we need a compensating divine perspective. It is only healthy for the ego to hear the story of the gods, because not everything revolves around the ego and its worldly ambitions.

No theologian makes literal interpretations of religious narrative. Augustine and Aquinas have a profound understanding of the symbols. What Peterson attempts to do is "kill" the religious content once and for all, because he thinks he can translate the bible and Egyptian myth to abstract thought. It is undoable, because the divine forever transcends our conscious categories.

We cannot move on from the mythological stage. People consume mythic narrative in the forms of films and books as never before, and mythology books sell like hot cakes. Ingmar Bergman questions why people believe what they see on the black-and-white, two-dimensional screen, as when The Grim Reaper appears in his film The Seventh Seal. It perplexes him that people take it seriously.

Mats

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Newme » July 12th, 2018, 10:30 am

Mats,
Philosophy is the study of knowledge, reality and existence. And “in the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics.” So to claim that a psychological interpretation of a myth is “wrong” as you did is ignoring a significant aspect of philosophy. And again, Peterson reminded his audience that there are other ways to interpret these things and he is giving his interpretation from a psychological perspective.

Yes, myths are still, and will likely always be, an important part of society and entertainment because they speak to us in ways often not consciously realized. Moving past mythical-literal & skeptical interpretations doesn’t mean discarding myths, but rather it means approaching them more symbolically than literally. Read stage 5 which I suggested many are moving to & why Peterson has struck a chord.

(From Fowler’s Faith stages: http://www.psychologycharts.com/james-f ... faith.html)...

Stage 5:
“It is rare for people to reach this stage before mid-life. This is the point when people begin to realize the limits of logic and start to accept the paradoxes in life. They begin to see life as a mystery and often return to sacred stories and symbols but this time without being stuck in a theological box.”

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Mlw » July 12th, 2018, 3:04 pm

As you can see on those link to my articles, I make a psychological interpretation, too, the difference being that I follow the correct method. It does not suffice to interpret it psychologically; it must be correct, too. I do not understand myths literally, nor do the theologians of old. Literalism is a strange modern phenomenon. Augustine says:
It struck me that it was, after all, possible to vindicate his [Ambrose's] arguments. I began to believe that the Catholic faith, which I had thought impossible to defend against the objections of the Manichees, might fairly be maintained, especially since I had heard one passage after another in the Old Testament figuratively explained. These passages had been death to me when I took them literally, but once I had heard them explained in their spiritual meaning I began to blame myself for my despair… (Confessions V)
Mats

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Newme » July 12th, 2018, 6:35 pm

Mats,
When it comes to interpreting mythical symbolism, there is no one “correct method.”

Like FreudianMonkey, I also get the impression that Peterson offended you & since then you’re biased toward noticing his flaws over contributions. Peterson does reveal flaws - he’s human. During a debate with an African-American man, regarding the generational consequences of slavery, logically, Peterson won the debate because the man kept engaging in ad hominem attacks etc. However, to me, Peterson showed some ignorance or lack of empathy regarding the ripple effect slavery & extreme prejudice may have had and still has. He likely never experienced it, and maybe he’s never witnessed racial prejudice against someone he cared about, as I and others have.

Peterson isn’t perfect - whatever ideal of perfection you use. A couple other times I’ve disagreed with him, but those are minor compared to how he’s helped me understand religious symbols & inspiring me to live the best I can and to defend truth and goodness. If I discredited all contributions of every person upon learning of their fallibility, I wouldn’t learn much from anyone.

You seem to disagree with Peterson’s associating chaos with feminine and order with masculine. Chaos is associated with change. Women tend to change more than men - with monthly menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, menopause & other changes that men don’t experience. Peterson explained the need to harmonize between chaos and order... between exploring/learning the new... and organizing accumulated knowledge and experience etc. Remember he also discusses Jung’s theory of anima and animus - men have some feminity and women have some masculinity. The yin and yang symbol is not all one or the other but in the black is a white dot and visa versa.

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Mlw » July 13th, 2018, 2:28 am

I am a little worried that you both experience my article as negatively biased. I thought that my critique would make the impression of objectivity, with relevant citations and good logic. In fact, I appreciate what Peterson is saying on YouTube. I am in two minds about Peterson. I really appreciate the way in which he is attacking political correctness and postmodern relativism. But when I read Maps of Meaning, I realized that his views are void of a sound theoretical underpinning. It is a strange phenomenon. Although he publicly adheres to commonsensical views, reading his book is like a journey into cloud-cuckoo land.

The "ripple effect of slavery" would have been more pronounced among Whites than Blacks, because the vast majority of slaves in human history have been white. Between one-half and two-thirds of white immigrants to the American colonies between the 1630s and American Revolution were consigned to slavery--some forcibly, whereas others had to underwrite a slave contract to avoid starvation (cf. Wikipedia). The majority of white Americans are descended from slaves. They don't like to hear that. However, Blacks like to hear about their slave heritage, because then they can put blame for their own woeful plight on the white slave descendants.

I don't agree that chaos is associated with change. Order is associated with change. Panta rhei ("everything flows"), says Heraclitus. He explains that the underlying nature of the universe is like fire ("firewind"). As fire needs fuel, order depends on a continual flux. Fire changes into water and then into earth; earth then changes into water and then into fire. So he is speaking of energy and its transformations, which we today know to be true. As soon as energetic transformations come to a halt, death ensues.

Mats

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by ThomasHobbes » July 13th, 2018, 2:54 am

Mlw wrote:
June 12th, 2018, 6:10 am
You have probably heard of Jordan B. Peterson, the YouTube star. He is presently engaged in a project of translating the bible to discursive thought.
He be better off getting a proper job. Something that might make a useful contribution to society.

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by ThomasHobbes » July 13th, 2018, 2:55 am

Like being a street cleaner or rubbish collector.
Wait... he's collecting stuff from the bible so he's already collecting rubbish.

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Newme » July 13th, 2018, 3:51 pm

Mats,
I suppose it depends on how you define slavery. My understanding is that many whites, who you referred to centuries ago in the US, had debts to pay (especially to fund trips to America) and were indentured servants for a set amount of time. Although it may be regarded as a form of slavery, I consider that quite different than kidnapping Africans from Africa and buying and selling them, to work their entire lives for no pay and without freedom to leave. And although several generations of African Americans today have never known slavery, there are ripple effects. I am not for reverse discrimination and I agree with some Blacks, who basically have told blacks (especially black men) to get their s- -t together. And I can see how the Democratic Party (who once were the main slave-owners) has deceived them into a different more subtle form of slavery (welfare). If I hadn’t witnessed racial prejudice as I have, maybe I’d be more ignor-ant. But all that’s another topic.

Order is defined in part, by “sequence, pattern, or method” - repetition - same ol’ same ol.’ Chaos is dis-order - not the same, but trying something new. As with the yin-yang symbol I can see how in application- there is a good harmony of both order and chaos which propels life forward.

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Greta » July 13th, 2018, 8:17 pm

A well written and thoughtful analysis - well done, there's much work and thought put into it and you truly skewered his erroneous reasoning regarding the evolution of human rationality. Any dog owner will tell you that rationality precedes myths and language; the first language was body language (real semiotics) and scent and the reading of those accidental affects requires rational thinking.

I generally have a much simpler view. I do find Jordan Peterson a wonderfully sharp observer. Credit where credit's due. However, his judgement is be unreliable due to this theism and thus a need to shoehorn an ancient mythology into his modern observed paradigms. So his ideas are distorted in any area where Christianity is at odds with secular society such as in the areas of reproduction, sex, gender, mortality or human divinity (hence his misreading of evolution).

His observations of personal politics and power dynamics, though, are awe inspiring at times. IMO, if anyone wants to better understand how things really are - a completely unvarnished observations with zero agenda - Richard Feynman is the one.

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Newme » August 3rd, 2018, 12:28 am

Greta,
How did Peterson misread evolution?
How is his judgment unreliable due to “this theism”?
Please provide quotes so I know you’re not just expressing bigotry (intolerance to views you don’t hold).

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Re: Jordan Peterson's "secular theology"

Post by Greta » August 3rd, 2018, 5:35 pm

NewMe, I can't remember - it was almost a month ago.

I'm normally okay with evolution so I expect he must have dropped a clanger somewhere for me to comment. As mentioned, I have always liked him.

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